UP UP AND AWAY WITH TWA…CIRCA 1962 – PART ONE

I am now in the throes of 1) being thoroughly done with the restrictions and limitations brought upon my travel plans due to the pandemic 2) antsy with anticipation of resuming my adventures across the world, but 3) filled with concern and trepidation seeing the chaos of multitudes of flights being cancelled, long lines at security checkpoints and oh my the nauseating increases in the prices of airline tickets.

I have decided to wait a bit, which is excruciating, but I do not want my travel experiences to be so tainted with agita before they even commence. However, I have already made my first post-pandemic visit to the airport – but not to fly.  Rather, in celebration of my recent birthday, I spent an overnight stay at one of the most kitschy hotels I have ever visited – the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport in NYC.

For those of you who are not familiar with this edifice, let me  provide some history.

In 1956,  TWA, under the ownership of Howard Hughes, commissioned a JFK terminal for what was at the time called Idewild Airport from Eero Saarinen, the Finnish-American architect behind the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Saarinen was known for architecture that took on sculptural forms that were rich in  character and visual drama unknown in earlier years in the field. Based on a symmetrical plan (which is immensely pleasing to me) the TWA “Flight Center” was constructed with two large concert projections extending outward and upward, suggesting wings, while on the inside, sculptural supports and curving stairways evoke a feeling of movement. In this distinctive and memorable building, Saarinen presented a symbol of flight.  Sadly, Saarinen’s design was for airplanes that were prevalent at the time that had a capacity of approximately 100 passengers,  Very quickly, much larger aircraft came onto the scene and by 1970, only 8 years after the TWA Flight Center’s completion, the wide body planes rendered their predecessors and the TWA building, obsolete as the numbers of air travelers ballooned.  Thankfully, talks of demolitions this iconic structure did not move forward, and in 1994 the TWA Flight Center became protected as a NYC landmark.  On May 15, 2019, after some renovations, the TWA Hotel opened with much fanfare.  Most of the elements originally conceived by Saarinen are still evident, down to the Chili Pepper Red color he developed specifically for the center, from the upholstery in the Sunken Lounge to the hallway carpeting in the hotel buildings.  Here are some pictures to illustrate:

This last photo is the interior of “The Connie” – a  restored 1958 Lockheed airplane which after retiring from TWA served as an Alaskan bush plane.  It now serves as a cocktail lounge on the tarmac – more on this in the next post,

Besides being a visual delight visiting the TWA Hotel is frankly a hoot, as it is not only filled with excellent restaurant and bars,  well appointed rooms, a rooftop infinity pool and even a roller rink, it also showcases many exhibits illustrating life in the 1960’s.  Being a Baby Boomer, seeing and interacting  with the many displays was a memories filled jaunt through my past.

Join me next week as I relive my birthday weekend fun!

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4 thoughts on “UP UP AND AWAY WITH TWA…CIRCA 1962 – PART ONE

  1. Very cool structure- glad you enjoyed your new kind of “ Airport Experience “! Yes, flight nightmares here in Canada too- my trip to the Maritimes in mid July has been changed seven times since booking! Hope flight still exists when I arrive at the airport! Terrible! Enjoy the read! Hi from Diana too- Parker

    • Always great to hear from you Parker – hi to Diana too – I just put down a deposit for Southern India for Feb 2022 – between flight cancellations due to lack of pilots and ground staff in addition to so many uncivil “tourists” who have taken loosened restrictions to mean lack of manners, I decided to wait it out awhile. Hope you and Diana are in great health – and enjoy the Maritimes – looking forward to hearing all about it – Cindy

  2. Wow! Will definitely need to check out the next time we are in New York. Our travel plans have also been curtailed. Were supposed to to to Poland and Russia this past May – definitely had to cancel that trip! We will be heading to Norway and Finland but not until September 2023. Always enjoy your posts! – Hellena

    • SO great to hear from you Hellena – sorry your plans are delayed – I am waiting until Feb 23 to go to Southern India. Luckily for me my Russia trip was back before Putin came back to power. Poland was fascinating – part of an central Europe jaunt. Have been to Nordic countries in winter but want to return in spring/summer – when is your trip planned? The TWA Hotel is a great place for a fun overnight – people are friendly – good food and drink – and lots of memorabilia – more to come in future posts. Best to you and your family

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